August 21, 2018

San Francisco Travel Diary

shelly stuckman, ArizonaGirl.com, San Francisco, travel blog, fashion blogger, Golden Gate Bridge

Earlier this month, I spent five days in San Francisco with some friends. Hillary (who attended Lost Lake Festival with me), Chelsea (who traveled to Bali with me) and I made our way through SF eating and sightseeing the best of the Foggy City. I hadn't been to San Francisco since I was a little girl (I'm talking pre-braces and hair straightener), so I was stoked when I got sponsored to attend Outside Lands (you can read about the festival here). I spent 3 days at the festival and 2 days exploring the city. Before we arrived, we made a list of our must-see places which included the following: Ferry Building Marketplace, Lombard Street, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square, China Town, Painted Ladies, and Mission District. Below is a video Chelsea (chelseabradycinematography.com) filmed as we wandered, followed by my list of must-sees of San Francisco:

  

Ferry Building Marketplace


We started our day at the Ferry Building Marketplace (FBM). The architecture is beautiful, and the numerous specialty food shops, restaurants, and coffee shops inside make for an enjoyable lunch. 

 

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Chelsea and Hillary tried fresh oysters at the San Francisco Fish Company located in the FBM. They said the oysters were delicious. 

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We all enjoyed gourmet s'mores at Dandelion Chocolate that's also located in FBM. The s'mores are made fresh right in front of you. The decadent treats were rich and yummy.

 

Lombard Street 


Next, we took an Uber to the top of Lombard Street, a.k.a. the famous "zig zag" road. We walked alongside the street, down the stairs. Walking along the street allows for time to take photos and viewing of the beautiful homes and flowers that frame the street. The go-karts you can rent sure looked fun. Dream date idea: go-kart down Lombard Street. 

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A decorated VW van drove down Lombard Street while we were there. As we snapped a few photos, one of the tourist inside graced us with a fitting peace sign. 

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Lombard Street is usually very populated with tourists on either side and at the bottom, as well as cars driving down it. Brace yourself for lots of cars and people. It's still lovely though. 

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shelly stuckman, ArizonaGirl.com, San Francisco, travel blog, fashion blogger, Lombard Street 

Fisherman's Wharf


From Lombard Street, we walked to Fisherman's Wharf, which is a must for seafood lovers. It's known for its fresh fish at the market and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. I don't eat seafood, but I still enjoyed walking around the famous historical wharf. You can see Alcatraz Island and old navy ships from the dock. 


 

Alcatraz Island


If you are a history fanatic or into spooky stuff, you gotta tour Alcatraz Island. The story behind the penitentiary is fascinating, as well as the preserved grounds. I like scary movies and find creepy things interesting, so Alcatraz was right up my alley. Tours and ferries often sellout weeks in advance, so be sure to book yours in advance. The tour is lead by a voiceover in headphones. It's something you can do independently or with a group. 

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Golden Gate Bridge


The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the most recognizable icon of the city. We rented bikes from Wheel Fun Rentals, located at Fisherman's Wharf, and biked to the bridge. The company provides a map that's easy to follow. Along the way, the bridge can be seen from all different distances and angles. We stopped numerous times to snap some photos. It was such a cool experience to bike across the bridge. Some bikers ride the trail really fast as their daily workout, so be careful to stay out of their way. They are stopping for no one. haha We highly recommend the electronic bikes that are a few bucks more, because San Francisco has steep hills. The trail is doable for all ages and sizes with the electronic bikes. You still get a workout, but you don't die. Going up hills, we passed numerous families that had rented standard bikes and were having to walk. You can also Lyft or Uber to the bridge and walk across if you'd prefer.

 

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 shelly stuckman, ArizonaGirl.com, San Francisco, travel blog, fashion blogger, Golden Gate Bridge

Ghirardelli Square


After we returned our bikes, we walked to Ghirardelli Square. We three are chocolate lovers so it was a must. The square is not only beautiful, but also home to the Ghirardelli Chocolate factory. The factory offers yummy free samples and shows how the chocolate is made. We split a chocolate sundae in a waffle bowl, and it was divine. I wasn't kidding when I said we ate our way through the city. lol For those who appreciate chocolate, you gotta go!



Chinatown


The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory was our first stop in Chinatown. It's located in an alleyway and can be spotted by a long line out the door. The line moves quickly though. They provide complimentary samples of freshly baked, unshaped fortune cookies inside, as you wait to purchase fresh fortune cookies. You can also see how they bake and shape the cookies. I thought it was really neat. Plus, I love fortune cookies and theirs were delicious. I am holding my to-go fortune cookie box in the photos. Chinatown also offers lots of shops and restaurants and decorated streets. It's definitely worth checking out.

  

 

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We decided to have lunch in Chinatown, and ironically we ended up loving the sushi and teryaki chicken (Japenese cuisine) at Oolong Noodles & Seafood Restaurant.

 

Painted Ladies


The Painted Ladies are a row of intricately-decorated, victorian style homes that line a side of Alamo Square Park. It is a tourist attraction, so the park is normally scattered with people snapping pictures. They are also recognizable from the beginning credits of the famous TV show Full House. Heads up, the homes are painted pastel colors and can appear a bit washed out on overcast days. I still thought they were lovely even though we caught them on a foggy day.

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shelly stuckman, ArizonaGirl.com, San Francisco, travel blog, fashion blogger, Painted Ladies

Mission District


On our last day in the city, we decided to walk around Mission District. It's full of murals, bakeries, shops, restaurants, and parks. It reminds me of Venice, CA. It was a little sketch to walk on some blocks, but we were a group of three and stayed alert. Overall, it was such a cool neighborhood to explore on foot during the day. We stumbled upon gem after gem by walking. I wouldn't recommend walking around alone or after sunset though. 

 
 

We ate lunch at La Santaneca de la Mission, which offered Salvadorian and Mexican food. I ordered bean and cheese pupusas with rice on the side. I also tried a traditional Salvadorian empanada. It was my first time trying Salvadorian cuisine, and now I'm a big fan. The restaurant was very popular with locals; it often has a wait. However, we only waited a few minutes before a table opened up. I would definitely eat there again. YUM.



 

Just down the street from the restaurant was a beautiful art gallery called Artillery Apparel Gallery. They had paintings, photographs, jewelry, an art studio, and a lovely array of succulents. 

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After lunch, we all had a sweet tooth. Walking around, we found Mission Minis that has fresh mini cupcakes for $1 and La Reyna Bakery that has Mexican bread and pastries. Both places were amazing. My favorite thing I tried was a palmier at La Reyna Bakery. I brought one home for my dad because it's his favorite pastry. He said it was the best he's ever had. 


 


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San Francisco Mission District Street art, mural, ArizonaGirl.com, mermaid mural,  San Francisco Mission District Street art, mural, ArizonaGirl.com, ivy on wall, lips painting

Throughout Mission District, murals would be in unexpected places and yet were incredible works of art. Balmy Alley (photographed below) is a block long mural haven. It's located by Garfield Square. 

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San Francisco Mission District Street art, mural, ArizonaGirl.com, horse mural, street art

San Francisco Mission District Street art, mural, ArizonaGirl.com, fringe jacket, shelly stuckman, street style, where the wild things are San Francisco Mission District Street art, mural, ArizonaGirl.com

San Francisco Mission District Street art, mural, ArizonaGirl.com,

Jenny Lemons storefront  in Mission District San Francisco, ArizonaGirl.com, lemon signage,

Jenny Lemons in San Francisco Mission District, inside store, ArizonaGirl.com, clothing racks and items for sale Jenny Lemons in San Francisco Mission District, inside store, artist at work, shelves of items, arizonagirl.com

Just down the street from Balmy Alley is a super cute store called Jenny Lemons. I didn't buy anything, but I was tempted. They carry one-of-a-kind handmade pieces along with vintage finds. They had some pairs of thrifted Levi's that were calling my name, but I resisted. #regret. haha While we were looking around, the owner bonded with us talking about Outside Lands and her memories from attending the music festival years ago. As we left, she started making more pieces. It's always fascinating to see an artist at work. 

We Be Sushi outside and signage in Mission District - ArizonaGirl.com

For dinner, one night we Ubered to We Be Sushi in Mission District. They were friendly and nice. My sushi loving friends were very happy with their meals. I ordered teriyaki chicken and miso soup. The service and environment were great. I'm on the verge of becoming vegetarian, so I didn't eat my chicken, but the rice and soup were delicious. haha I repeat, DO NOT WALK MISSION DISTRICT AT NIGHT. We walked to the underground subway system after dinner, and it was terrifying. San Francisco has a large homeless population, and it's a big city. Big city 101, don't walk around after dark. I was carrying around my camera too, so I know God and my guardian angel were working overtime. We weren't accosted, but there were some scary close calls that had us running. Uber or Lyft in and out of Mission District. It's not worth the risk. Stay safe. ♥

We Be Sushi instead the restaurant in Mission District, sushi restaurant, neon light - ArizonaGirl.com We Be Sushi Mission District - ArizonaGirl.com, Teriyaki Chicken, white rice, miso soup

Where We Stayed


My friends and I stayed at an Airbnb in Oakland, CA. Oakland is about 20-30 minutes outside of the city, depending on traffic. Most places were already booked in SF or weren't in our ideal price range. The place we stayed was nice and renovated, but located in a rougher neighborhood. Chelsea commented that it looked like the street from the TV show Shameless. I've never watched it, but I googled the house, and it's pretty spot on. Each time we took an Uber or Lyft home, we would let the drivers know the area was a little sketchy, and they would laugh it off saying, "I'm sure it's fine." Every time, the drivers would eat their words and tell us, "Don't leave your house!"  The house itself was safe, but we would go from the front door to a car and vice versa. My parents weren't too happy when they Google mapped and researched the McClymonds neighborhood. We were cautious, and it worked out fine. If you're on a budget, I think this Airbnb is great. And if you know you are sightseeing all day and into the late night, there's no need to spend money on a luxurious resort. The family that hosted us was very friendly and offered breakfast and conversation. Cons: creaky house, family is a bit noisy in the morning, construction across the street, and the neighborhood is sketchy. The cons honestly weren't bad since we would leave early in the morning and arrive back late at night. Pros: affordable, comfortable, clean, friendly communication with host, allowed us early check-in and late check-out. I would stay here again.  

AirBnb Oakland, CA, Mcclymonds neighborhood, where to stay in San Francisco - ArizonaGirl.com

Oakland, CA Mcclymonds neighborhood construction across from AirBnb - ArizonaGirl.com Oakland, CA Mcclymonds neighborhood - ArizonaGirl.com

A few things we would do next time that we couldn't fit in this trip are ride a trolley around the city, find a famous San Francisco swing, and explore Twin Peaks, Marin Headlands, and the Japanese Tea Garden. San Francisco is a fascinating city with lots to see and do. I definitely hope to go back someday. I hope you found my travel diary and photos useful for your next trip to SF. Thank you Hillary and Chelsea for being wonderful travel buddies and being patient with the many, many photos. Xoxo, Shelly

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